Sunday, September 16, 2012

Seven Years

Firstly, an apology for dropping off the side of a cliff. Politics began to provide less interesting angles to blog about, so there was no point in posting for the sake of it.

Secondly, seven years after El Blogador was launched, it almost seems like déjà vu - the site was spurred into existence after loyalist violence hit our streets, and recently in 2012 we've yet again seen pointless rioting aflict Belfast. Some things never change.

However, although we may not be posting often to El Blogador, I think the back catalogue of articles provides an interesting insight into how things were at certain junctures over the past decade, so I'll leave everything in place in case anyone wants to browse. And you never know - perhaps someday El Blogador will roar again.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Alliance Justice Minister Would Be A Corruption Of Democracy

It's hilarious, nay, discomfiting how people can keep a straight face when talking about the possibility of the Alliance Party being handed the Justice Ministry.

By what stretch of creativity could it be possibly justifed to hand an Executive post to a fringe party with nio right to be there?

The people of the north went to the polls in 2007 to elect an administration based on the understanding that Executive posts would be allocated by d'Hondt. There was no Justice Ministry at the time, so it wasn't included in that d'Hondt round. However, the SDLP is next in line should an extra seat at the Executive table is put in place.

Now that the justice post is being created, there are only two options which are morally justifiable- a) that the post goes to the SDLP, the party with the democratic mandate from the people which entitles it to its second seat on the Executive under d'Hondt, or b) that d'Hondt is run again from scratch.

If the Justice Ministry is gifted to the Alliance Party, an organisation which in 2007 formed a "strong, coherent and constructive opposition," it would be a complete corruption of democracy. Once you break the foundation upon which partnership government is based, it's a slippery slope into chaos. The Good Friday Agreement was put in place to ensure that both sides of the community could come together in government- now the DUP and Sinn Féin want to destroy this.

The axis at Stormont is seeking to gerrymander the system to prevent the SDLP from taking its seat. This is a throwback to the old Stormont regime- it seems that once again no nationalist need apply.

Sinn Féin claim that they support the Good Friday Agreement and want the SDLP to get the post. Well let's see them put their money where their mouth is.

The SDLP is entitled to its second seat in the Executive. If it doesn't get it, then it would seem that Northern Ireland is reverting back to being a banana republic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Tory/ Ulster Unionist/ DUP Pro-British Front?

The shady talks that took place in England over the weekend would seem to suggest that despite claims by the Conservative Party that they want to offer an alternative to the tribal politics of Northern Ireland, there may be scope for a Pro-British Front to be formed.

Presumably the aim of such a move, were it to happen, would be to share the electoral spoils among unionist parties by way of pacts in constituencies such as South Belfast and Fermanagh/ South Tyrone.

Frankly, if there were to be pacts, it would be retrograde step which would show up those involved as putting sectarian power-grabbing ahead of principle or progress.

If the Ulster Unionists and Tories have something truly to offer voters as an alternative to the DUP, then why would they step aside in some areas and not give people a choice? It would hardly ring of democracy. Also, what would be the point in the UUP and DUP remaining separate parties?

David Cameron claims that he want to run Tories in all seats in the Union- this won't happen if they step aside for the DUP in some areas.

Of course, we could be barking up the wrong tree. There is certainly no love lost between either the Tories or the Ulster Unionists and the DUP, so maybe pacts aren't on the cards. However, the fact that there has been no definitive denial of such possibilities doesn't exactly kill speculation that it's an option.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas From El Blogador!

It's been a quiet enough year here on in El Blogador, but we've reached our fifth Christmas.

I'd like to thank everyone who has visited El Blogador in 2009, and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Conall McDevitt Selected To Be MLA

Further to my last post, tonight SDLP members in South Belfast selected Conall McDevitt to be an MLA, as party stalwart Carmel Hanna MLA is planning to stand down in the New Year.

During his pitch for the role, the PR man said he wanted to focus on party renewal and encourage a new generation of SDLP representatives to come forward.

Also running for the post was Balmoral councillor Bernie Kelly.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

SDLP's Carmel Hanna To Step Down After 9th December

It has just been revealed that the SDLP's South Belfast MLA Carmel Hanna is to step down. A selection convention will take place on 9th December. Carmel was first elected an MLA in 1998 and was appointed Employment & Learning from the end of 2001.

According to party rules, prospective candidates need to have their names with Headquarters two weeks before the selection convention. Names that have been suggested include Balmoral Branch Chair Conall McDevitt and Bernie Kelly, a councillor in the area. The selection convention will be conducted using PR-STV.

Outgoing SDLP Leader Mark Durkan commented: "Carmel Hanna has served her constituents of South Belfast, the people of Northern Ireland, the wider SDLP with dignity, determination and dedication during a distinguished political career as a councillor, Assembly Member and as a Minister.

"During this time she has remained steadfastly committed to social democracy and peaceful politics.

"She brought immense professionalism to the SDLP Assembly team with her expertise in the field of health and she has been a long-standing supporter of international development.

"I am proud to have appointed her as a Minister because she has displayed in how she thinks and what she says a strong public service ethic.

"On behalf of everyone in the SDLP I want to wish her all the best for the future."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Seeing Sense Over Smoking Fines

I'm a strong supporter of the smoking ban. Coming home after a night out smelling of ashtray and having your clothes pockmarked by cigarette burns thanks to the flailing arms of drunk smokers in nightclubs was never particularly pleasant. And for workers having to inhale noxious fumes every night in pubs and clubs it was even worse.

However, some things can go too far, and when people are penalised for lighting up when sitting in their vehicle alone, that is the case. The point of the ban is to protect people from inhaling passive smoke- if people aren't present to inhale smoke passively, then why should the smoker be fined?

Thanksfully, it has been reported in today's Irish News that a woman in Armagh has successfully appealed a £50 penalty for lighting up in her car. Lynda Wright won the case against Armagh City and District Council, which had fined her for smoking in the workplace i.e. the car she used to conduct driving lessons. However, there was no one in the car with her at the time, so the only person forced to breathe poisonous gases was her.

Sometimes it seems that legitimate government policy is pished to the extreme by jobsworths who end up undermining the whole point of the exercise. Hopefully now council officials will target those who actually do pose a threat to others with their smoke, and leave alone those who want to endanger their own lives in the privacy of their own car or van when there's no one else present.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Calling Time On Cóir Crap

Southern foreign minister Micheál Martin has challenged Cóir to withdraw a poster in which they suggest that the minimum wage could be reduced to €1.84 if the Lisbon Treaty is passed in this Friday's referendum. Anybody with a bit of sense would realise the claim being made by Cóir (followed by a question mark as if so absolve themselves of any responsibility for putting such nonsense in the public arena) is nonsense, although it seems that some voters have raised it as a concern, hence Martin speaking out.

Cóir has responded by saying that Martin's comments revealed the minister's "desperation and absolute inability to debate on the issue."

To be fair, I don't think they should be questioning anyone's debating skills when their idea of 'debate' is to erect copious numbers of posters emblazoned with scaremongering claims. And if I'm not mistaken, I've seen plenty of politicians from the southern government and other pro-Lisbon parties debate the issues, such as on Prime Time last week.

If there was one good reason to vote 'Yes' this Friday, it's to wipe the smug off the faces of Cóir.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Four More Years!

It briefly escaped my attention, but I've just realised that El Blogador has passed its fourth birthday. It doesn't seem like that long since the site has started amidst a period of loyalist street violence and political uncertainty. A lot has happened in the meantime, not least the return of the Assembly. I'd like to think we've made some small contribution to the online political discourse here over those four years, and although I have admittedly neglected to post as much recently as I ought to have done, it's my intention to rev up the old engine of Irish Nationalism on here again and get things moving on the site.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Disgusting Partitionism by 'National' Dairy Council

In yet another act of pro-partitionism from a southern organisation, the National (sic) Dairy Council is introducing a new mark on milk and cream packaging to show consumers it has been sourced and processed in the 26 counties.

According to RTÉ, the initiative is designed to protect the livelihoods of farmers and workers in the dairy industry in the Republic, and major companies such as Glanbia and Kerry Group are supporting the move.

The report also says that NDC Chief Executive Helen Broffey denied suggestions that the move is part of a cross-boarder economic war and rejected claims that it flies in the face of North/South co-operation in agriculture.

How else can it be described? They are seeking to delineate between southern products and northern products. It would seem that some Irish produce is more Irish than others in their eyes.

Also, I'd be interested to know what Fianna Fáil's position on this is. They hold their media-friendly publicity meetings in Crossmaglen and Downpatrick, but are they prepared to condemn a campaign to discriminate against dairy produce which is sourced in this part of the island? They can't court northerners while turning a blind eye to campaigns which could damage the livelihoods of people living up here.

Also, the 'National' Dairy Council should not be permitted to use that name- it clearly only represents dairy producers in part of the nation.

Yet again we see that for many, the idea of a united Ireland takes second place to the amount of change in their pockets.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bomb In Forkhill

It was revealed yesterday that a group styling itself 'Óglaigh na hÉireann' had planted a 600lb bomb on the border near Forkhill. What was the purpose of this? We've already had soldiers and policemen murdered this year, with the only result being that several families have been left bereaved. Did these killings expedite the creation of a united Ireland? Absolutely not!

Not only was this bomb aimed at killing police officers, but it was dangerously close to a family home in an area where the bombers claim to represent the people. Like their provo predecessors, the well-being of their 'own community' comes second to the bloodlust armed groups like this.

I'm not sure what these people's strategy is, or if they have one. I would like to know though. In the meantime, let's hope no lives are lost as a result of any more violent actions of this sort.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Le Blogger El Matador Est De Retour

Apologies for my appaling lack of blogging lately. I've been really busy and although had intended posting some stuff on here over the summer, I never quite got around to it.

Since my last venture online we've had the European elections. There were plenty of predictions flying around before the poll, but I don't quite think that anyone expected the DUP to trail in in third place, failing to reach quota. Quite where Jim Allister goes from here remains to be seen, but if he can build a coalition around his particular brand of unionism, then he could potential do quite well in the Assembly. Of course, there's always the chance that it could become a one-man show- after all, how many other TUV members can the average punter name?

Meanwhile, the SDLP failed to make any inroads into the Sinn Féin vote. Indeed, the latter became the biggest party in the north in terms of votes for the the first time, a feat achieved by the former in the 1998 Assembly elections.

Down south, and the Lisbon Treaty Referendum campaign is in full swing. Fianna Fáil, suffering massively in the wake of the financial crisis and stuck in a coalition government that seems to be getting more fragile by the day, will be hoping that the no vote from last time will be reversed.

Apologies again for my absence, but I'll make it my autumn resolution to stay at the helm of good Ship El Blogador.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Clerical Abuse In The Republic Of Ireland

The full horror of abuse by members of 'religious' orders against innocent children was revealed today. Some say that this is a dark day in Ireland's history. I'd say every day that this activity went on and was covered up was a dark day- today is hopefully the start of the return of light.

However, I am deeply concerned that those who committed these disgusting crimes will not face justice. The Christian Brothers successfully sued the investigating commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document and its findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions. Shame on them. If they are truly sorry for their members' bahaviour, they should do everything they can to aid justice- not block the course of truth.

I also think that members of society who turned a blind eye to these activities and acted as if members of the clergy were demi-gods who were above question ought to hang their heads in shame. They were complicit in this evil.

The southern government must now take clear and decisive action to enable those who were the victims of clerical abuse to secure justice. It's the least that they can do given that it was their predecessors who enabled these crimes to happen in the first place.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Peelers and a cúpla focal

News that the Policing Board in Derry will hold one of its meetings in Irish this Tuesday. There will be simultaneous translation for those not fluent in the Irish. The press release I received was in (faultless) Irish and referred, by the way, to Derry and not Londonderry. (Don’t tell Gregory Campbell!)

Being very cynical – can’t help it – I have to admit that I was momentarily taken aback. It is certainly another one of those arresting (!) moments that makes you think, a welcome step. That said, I pass many PSNI stations – have never been in one – and notice that they have signs in Polish and other Eastern European languages at the front. Nothing in Irish. If the Policing Board are serious about promoting the language, then why don’t they include information in Irish at the entrance as a matter of courtesy?

Anyway, here is the press release:

Cruinniú Gaeilge le bheith ag an Bhord Póilíneachta i nDoire

Tionólfaidh Bord Póilíneachta Thuaisceart Éireann a chéad chruinniú poiblí Gaeilge sa Bhálseomra Corantach, Óstán na Cathrach, Doire, Dé Máirt 19ú Bealtaine 2009 ó 7.30 – 9.00in. Ag an chruinniú seo, beidh deis ag baill de phobal na Gaeilge comhaltaí den Bhord Póilíneachta agus an tArdchonstábla Cúnta don Réigiún Tuaithe a cheistiú faoi cheisteanna póilíneachta anois agus sa todhchaí agus faoi na nósanna imeachta atá ag BPTÉ le teacht níos éasca a bheith ag pobal na Gaeilge ar phóilíneacht. Tabharfaidh an Bord fosta breac-chuntas ar a chur chuige i leith Teagmhála Pobail agus ar an dóigh a bhfuil sé ag obair le codanna den phobal le pobail níos sábháilte a chruthú.

Tear it down from the mast…

The issue of tearing down other party’s posters is one that regularly features at election time. The SDLP’s Declan O’Loan has already complained about republican harassment while trying to put up his party posters in North Antrim. I noticed some youngsters – about 12 years old or so – defacing a Sinn Féin Euro poster by writing “Heil Hitler!” and painting swastikas on it last night. Naturally, one deplores this kind of vandalism. (They came for the Sinn Féin posters but I was not a Sinn Féin poster…) Then again, was it vandalism or a statement by youthful, committed social democrats who recognised the neo-fascist elements in Sinn Féin’s politics and were alerting their community accordingly?